Tailor-made Solutions to Eradicate Poverty

Portrait of Georgina wearing a yellow dress and leaning on her sewing machine

In a small town almost 2 hours away from Rukungiri’s main town, we drove around the towering hills to get to Kiteme village. 

“You are most welcome,” said Georgina as soon as we arrived in her compound. She quickly poured us some water and “obushera” a very popular local drink in the area made up of a mix of water, millet, and sorghum. 

Kitembe is one of the partner villages of Raising The Village. As part of our program, Georgina participated in the financial inclusion initiatives intended to empower ultra-poor households, especially women and youth headed households, to start saving, diversify income sources, and gain financial self-reliance. In 2019, Georgina and 24 other women from the community formed the Kitembe Women Raising Group, a Village Saving and Loans Association (VSLA). 

The Kitembe Women Raising Group was equipped with financial literacy knowledge; record-keeping, planning, goal-setting, and leadership skills. The group started saving and for a group member to qualify to borrow money from the group, they had to be an active and participating member. Georgina was quick to front her creative idea to the group in order to acquire a loan for a sewing machine.

“I have always loved tailoring. I borrowed UGX 200,000 ($55) from our saving group and bought a sewing machine. People come with torn clothes that need to be fixed and I do it for them at a small fee. This brings me an average of UGX 5,000 ($ 1.4) daily.”

Georgina has put the sewing machine by her door – facing the road – so she doesn’t have to incur rent costs in the town area. Currently, she is working on mainly repairing children’s torn clothes. She however has plans of starting to make her own clothing designs with local African fabric for her community.

All the group members have benefited from the saving group through borrowing for individual and group initiatives. The group bought 9 garden hoes and rented a piece of land for agriculture – for income and household consumption. The money they get from their harvests is re-invested in agriculture and profits are is saved back into the VSLA to achieve the short and long-term goals the group has set for themselves.

“We will keep re-investing our savings amongst ourselves. We plan to buy goats for each member of the group,” Judith, the chairperson of the VSLA expressed.

Georgina attests that the group has not only been a source of empowerment for the members, but has also become an inspiration for many other women and young adults in Kiteme village.

Georgina operating her machine at her door in Kiteme village, Rukungiri district.
“While out in the village I hear people wish they were part of our group. Some people come to us to learn some basics of financial literacy. We are the experts now in our village so we help them,” Judith, the chairperson of the VSLA remarked.

We are excited to see Kiteme Women Raising Group’s journey towards financial empowerment, and can’t wait to see Georgina’s clothing designs.